Another early morning for us as we got ready to go fly fishing on the beautiful Kenai River. We had about an hour drive to get to Cooper Landing from Seward to meet up with our guides from Kenai Cache. After making sure our licenses were in order and that the two guides had all the gear and boats packed up we loaded into their trucks and drove about 45 minutes to the Skilak boat launch to float down the middle Kenai. Cole, Celia and Dad were with Phil, a purist for fly fishing. Phil was a "trout man" and also believed in catch and release a little more than we were expecting, but he was extremely informative and taught the group a lot about fishing in Alaska and fly fishing. Keely, Kevin and Mom were with Wes, a "salmon man" who was in it for the adrenaline rush you get with the fight of the fish. They couldn't have been more opposite guides and the two boats had very different experiences!
Wes brought his crew to the wrong boat launch to start off the trip, and they had to circle back about 20 minutes. He had also not been on that stretch of river before so didn't really know where he was rowing. Both boats had no motors and the guides rowed to the spot in the river they thought would be the best habitat for fish. To get to the mouth of the river the guides had to row across a beautiful lake - we couldn't have asked for a nicer day. It was clear and sunny and we could see the mountains and hills surrounding the river, it was spectacular! Eventually both boats met up just a little down from the mouth of the river.
The Wes crew started with some regular casting poles and caught a few sockeye salmon to start the day. They didn't land any, but it was fun fighting them! They were already red and not good for eating, but they were fun to try to reel in. Keely caught the first trout on a regular reel using a plug. in the Kenai you can only keep trout that are less than 16 inches, so when it was 15 1/2 inches the group decided to keep it!
Both teams got instructions on how to use the fly fishing rods, this was way more difficult than the guides made it look! Trying to get the sinker and bait, which was a small bead that was supposed to look like a king salmon egg, out of the water to fly out where you were casting. Keely and Mom felt it would have been easier if they'd been taller! Regardless of the poor casting though the fish were biting! There were a lot of small trout compared to what we have seen on Lake Michigan, but they were still fun to catch. Kevin also caught a keeper, and those ended up being the only two of the day. We also caught some interesting things that we could have done without... Keely caught a dead branch that acted a lot like a large fish and Cole caught a dead salmon head. Yup, just the head!!
The current allowed us to keep up a pretty quick pace through most of the trip, and we even had to go through some rapids! We thought we had finished our white water rafting adventures in Chickaloon! They were pretty small and both boats navigated through them successfully though. We were even told to fish through some of the smaller ones since they can be good spots to find fish. It started to sprinkle at this point, but that's fishing!
We took the boats out at Moose Landing and compared stories from our day. While we were typically in eyesight or earshot it was interesting to hear how opposite the guides were and the differences in the stories that they told! Overall each boat caught about 20 fish or so, it is much harder to keep track when you aren't keeping the fish. Everyone caught at least a handful of fish, but Keely and Celia were the big winners of the day as best in their boats!
Getting back to Seward Keely borrowed a food saver from the owner of the house we were renting to freeze the four little trout fillets to take home. Celia and Cole made a delicious dinner of Korean short ribs, rice and green beans. When we saw how much meat they made it didn't seem like we would put a dent in it, but there wasn't even any left for breakfast! After dinner the girls took on the guys in a game of Taboo. It was close for a little while but in the end the girls dominated! It was a great last night of the big Barnowsky family vacation!!